Written by Jordana Lennon
For the first time, scientists have used a genetically engineered herpes virus to achieve significant vaccine protection against the AIDS virus in monkeys. Only live attenuated strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the monkey version of HIV, have previously provided similar protection. Read more.
Written by Dr. Francis Collins
In recent years, researchers have figured out how to take a person’s skin or blood cells and turn them into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that offer tremendous potential for regenerative medicine. Still, it’s been a challenge to devise safe and effective ways to move this discovery from the lab into the clinic. That’s why I’m pleased to highlight progress toward using iPSC technology to treat a major cause of vision loss: age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Read more.
Written by Claire Hansen
Experts have long warned about the negative effects of sleep deprivation, and new research suggests that people with Alzheimer’s disease may be particularly affected.
In a study of mice and humans, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that sleep deprivation increases levels of the protein tau, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. In follow-up studies in mice, the researchers also found that sleeplessness speeds up the spread of toxic clumps of tau in the brain, a precursor to brain damage and dementia. Read more.
Written by Joe Wilensky
Praveen Sethupathy ’03, associate professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Nicolas Buchon, assistant professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, collaborate in the study of gut biology, gut microbes, and intestinal stem cells and their function and response to environment, diet and disease. Sethupathy studies microRNAs and the gut in mouse models and human organoids and Buchon studies host-microbe interactions and stem cell biology in the five-millimeter-long GI tract of the fruit fly (drosophila) or in disease vector mosquitoes. Read more.
Revolutionary work on the body’s immune system and a host of new drug trials mean that beating cancer may be achievable.
Last month, the Nobel prize in medicine was awarded for two breakthrough scientific discoveries heralded as having “revolutionised cancer treatment”, and “fundamentally changed the way we view how cancer can be managed”. One of them went to a charismatic, harmonica-playing Texan named Jim Allison for his breakthrough advances in cancer immunotherapy. His discovery had resulted in transformative outcomes for cancer patients and a radical new direction for cancer research. Read more.
Written by David Nield
Using a newly developed microscopic technique, scientists have been able to create a detailed, 4D image of early mouse embryo development, down to the single cells involved – a fascinating look into the very first stages of life for mammals.
The imaging process is technically known as adaptive light-sheet microscopy, and it pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in imaging. Read more.
ATLANTA—Cesarean-born mice show altered patterns of cell death across the brain, exhibiting greater nerve cell death than vaginally delivered mice in at least one brain area, a finding by Georgia State University researchers that suggests birth mode may have acute effects on human neurodevelopment that may lead to long-lasting changes in the brain and behavior.
The team of neuroscientists examined the effect of birth mode (vaginal delivery versus Cesarean section) on neuronal cell death, an important process that reshapes neural circuits early in development. This process, which takes place in mice during the first week after birth, also occurs in humans. Their study’s findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more.
By University of California, San Francisco
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered how a mutation in a gene regulator called the TERT promoter—the third most common mutation among all human cancers and the most common mutation in the deadly brain cancer glioblastoma—confers “immortality” on tumor cells, enabling the unchecked cell division that powers their aggressive growth.
The research, published September 10, 2018 in Cancer Cell, found that patient-derived glioblastoma cells with TERT promoter mutations depend on a particular form of a protein called GABP for their survival. GABP is critical to the workings of most cells, but the researchers discovered that the specific component of this protein that activates mutated TERT promoters, a subunit called GABP-ß1L, appears to be dispensable in normal cells: Eliminating this subunit using CRISPR-based gene editing dramatically slowed the growth of the human cancer cells in lab dishes and when they were transplanted into mice, but removing GABP-ß1L from healthy cells had no discernable effect. Read more.
By Frankie Schembri
The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation has awarded its three annual prizes, regarded as the United States’s most prestigious biomedical research awards, to four researchers in fields including genetics and anesthetic drug development. The Laskers often precede a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Since the awards were founded in 1945, 87 Lasker laureates have later gotten the call from Stockholm.
The basic research prize is shared by Michael Grunstein of the University of California, Los Angeles, and C. David Allis of The Rockefeller University in New York City, who investigated the histone, once considered to be inert packing material for DNA. It is now recognized as an essential component in gene regulation. Read more.
Chinese scientists have folded DNA molecules in an origami-like process to make a minuscule “Trojan horse” – 4,000 times thinner than a human hair – that can release “killers” to fight cancer tumors. Cancer cells need a lot of nutrition to multiply, but they don’t produce their own nutrients, according to lead researcher Nie Guangjun of China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST). All the blood, oxygen and energy are conveyed to the cancer cells through blood vessels, so many scientists are trying to block the blood vessels that are feeding the tumor. Read more.